Pond have always done whatever it takes to get by.
Formed by the side of an Amsterdam canal, their initial ambition – “To make music that sounds like the wake left by a duck on the water… whatever that means!” – has allowed them to follow a merry, if sometimes difficult, path.
Take those early records. Wild, freeform psychedelia, they were largely recorded at a house in their native Perth, Australia. Diving into bins to rescue bread thrown away by their local bakery, the group were return to the house-studio to have bread fights.
“Seriously!” says vocalist Nick Allbrook. “We’d find these old lumps of baguette and just spend hours pelting it at one another. Huge bits of bread tumbling all over the house!”
These days, though, they can afford to buy their own bread. Across seven albums Pond have embarked on a remarkable journey, with their most recent – Marathon Artists backed ‘The Weather’ – becoming something of a breakout moment, sparking a series of lengthy world tours.
“At the moment it feels really positive,” explains Nick. “But we get on real well, so it’s not too hard. We’re so lucky for that. That’s one of the greatest blessings - that we don’t actually have to worry about hating each other. Which I think is something that a lot of other bands have to deal with a lot more. We actually like hanging out with each other.”
Guitarist ‘Shiny’ Joe Ryan agrees. “I don’t actually hang out with that many other people,” he says, before adding with a chuckle: “Maybe they don’t want to hang out with me!”
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Pond is a refreshingly egoless proposition. With their sprawling membership and lengthy catalogue, it would perhaps be inevitable for each member to develop their own tastes – instead, though, they use this to channel back into the band, keeping Pond as an amorphous, perpetually evolving experience.”
“We all have really disparate influences, but generally when it all comes down to the end of it we want it to be something that’s not either of our influences,” says the singer. Pausing to wet his whistle, Nick thinks for a moment. “If I was making a sort of neo-soul, R&B thing all by myself it would just be some dickhead from Perth trying to make it.”
“We all actually are pretty happy with the idea that if we put everything through this the proverbial Nutri-bullet of Pond then it’ll come out as something for better or worse, sublime or ridiculous, just - at least – different from other stuff. Because if you just purely channel your own influences then it can quite often come out fairly didactic.”
The guitarist looks over with quizzical expression on his face. “What does that mean, Nick?”
“Just, exactly like it sounds! Didactyl!”
Joe starts to crack up: “I think you mean pterodactyl, mate…”
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It’s nice having everyone there with their own tastes...
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Prehistoric beasts aside, Pond are in little danger of going extinct. A continually creative experience, the band are forever progressing, forever throwing around fresh ideas.
Joe picks up the conversation. “It’s nice having everyone there with their own tastes, it’s like balances and checks. I’ll come up with something, and someone will be like: I like that, but instead of G we’ll go C Major 7 and breath some new life into it. I can park something, and Nick will tie it together with his lyrical surgery.”
“And we’re pretty ruthless, as well,” adds Nick. “If I’ve got demos with, say, words that I like… and Joe’s got a really great chord progression I’ll not really hesitate to just take the words and my demo and delete the music, never to be seen again. And just use it on his thing.”
The band obviously aren’t perfectionists – those early recordings alone are sprawling, gleefully mistake-strewn documents to excess. So what is it that Pond are chasing, if not perfection?
Nick responds: “I think a lot of it is… you just want to constantly prove to yourself that you can make what you like, because what I like changes so often that I’m never looking at the last thing I did thinking ‘no, that represents me perfectly, I’m happy for that to be my legacy...’ It’s like, no, I need quickly, quickly to show people that it’s not ME!”
The enormous gears that drive Pond are back in motion already. New album ‘The Weather’ is still warming record shelves, but the new Japanese edition contains an extra track: ‘Fire In The Water’. “I’m glad it’s out there, to be honest,” insists Joe. “It would be a shame if it was just relegated to the dusty bookshelf.”
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The intimacy is quite nice – people get right in your face.
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Another bonus from the arrival of this new track is a sudden burst of tour dates. Right from the off, Pond were a band built to travel – that’s little wonder, though, given that Perth, Australia is one of the most remote cities on the planet. “It’s a great excuse to travel,” grins the guitarist. “I don’t think we thought we’d ever travel outside Perth, Western Australia… maybe over to Melbourne for a show or something.”
In London for a brief sojourn, Pond are set to host a three night residency at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club – it’s a tiny venue compared to their last, completely sold out, headline slot.
“I heard the PA is home made… It’s all thrown together, DIY,” says Joe. “The speakers are pretty damn old. We pushed it to the limit last night, so we got some more speakers in today, so we can go louder and more defined.”
Nick starts to laugh: “I do find myself having to think about the fact that I can’t move as much… because I’m going to knock something over!”
The guitarist seems more relaxed. “The intimacy is quite nice – people get right in your face. I had this last night, this girl dancing non-stop on the steps heading up to the stage right in front of me. Every time I played a part she’d shriek!”
The frontman and the focus for all that live energy, Nick Allbrook finds performing a hugely draining experience. “Live is a totally different thing,” he says. “The enjoyment of that, for me, is just tactile, visceral… actually being in front of people. It’s just like child’s play. It’s going out and having fun.”
“It’s fucking high pressure, and sometimes I think, why do I do this with my life? I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack everyday. But it’s addictive. I just feel absolutely sucked dry of emotion and energy.”
“Oh, mate!” shouts the guitarist, his arms outstretched. “I’ll remember to give you a hug after the show!”
So that’s how you power a wild, creative psychedelic experience: hugs, bread fights, and pterodactyls.
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'The Weather' is out now. Catch Pond at Bethal Green Working Men's Club tonight (August 30th).
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